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Customer Review

36 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A parasitic prequel that thrills as much as it disappoints..., 9 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: The Thing (2011) (Blu-ray + Digital Copy) [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
*contains some spoilers*

The Thing (2011) has received something of a critical drubbing in the press. Certainly, there's plenty of reasons to be cautious - marketed as a reboot (with the same title), yet tying in completely with the 1982 John Carpenter movie of the same name as a prequel. Then there was the strange gestation period where apparently, according to an interview with the writer on movie website Bloody Disgusting, various rewrites and reshoots were performed, and much of the original physical effects work was either removed or composited over in CGI.

Anyway, for the laymen - The Thing is based on a classic short story, Who Goes There by John W. Campbell, Jr., written in 1938. It largely deals with the same plot - a group of Norwegian scientists literally fall onto the find of the century in the form of a giant, crash-landed alien craft in the middle of the Antarctic. Finding the crafts inhuman pilot frozen in the ice, they do what any good scientist would do and excavate it before taking the corpse back to base. Then the leader of the expedition, a doctor named Sanders, brings in an little-known paleontologist named Kate Lloyd, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (her character being a reference to 1951's The Thing From Another World).

Naturally, things go awry on her arrival when they bore a sample of the creature from the ice-block, and it thaws out and escapes before assimilating the hapless base crew in a variety of somewhat disgusting ways. The Thing, you see, is an intelligent alien virus that can imitate any living creature.

There are two ways to approach this movie - that of a fan of John Carpenters superior, and stone-cold-classic, 1982 "sequel", in which lies a path of possible disappointment, and that of someone looking for a good horror without any knowledge of it.

As a horror, it works. It's actually quite a well made film, with a few problems exhibited through some over-zealous use of CGI and perhaps a little lack of imagination when it comes to the creature effects. But the point is there's very rarely a film released like this that goes quite as far out. The lead-in to the creature escaping has a great sense of dread, it's well directed visually and the actors, despite having little to play with (in this shortened Theatrical cut at least), really seem to be putting in their all. Joel Edgerton as chopper pilot Carter acquits himself well, and the various Norwegian characters are all, despite their sketched-over personalities, genuinely engaging in their performances.

When The Thing does bust out, the film manages to maintain the doomy tone of the original, only at a somewhat more hyperactive paste. The Thing is a creature on the run and on the offense. Its motive seems purely to escape, attacking when cornered much like the original, only with an aggressiveness not seen in John Carpenters film. The movie gives way somewhat to a purely chase-the-monster framework towards the end, but MEW's Kate is a character you're happy to stick with and the film ends on a satisfyingly refreshing grim note.

Now, I've mentioned the original a few times already - naturally, I'm a fan. Many fans of John Carpenters "sequel" are going to, maybe justifiably, loathe this film. It's pacing is too fast, I've already read unnecessary comments online about the female lead, plus it's very much a facscimile of a superior film. There are no suprises here. The motivation of the Thing might appear muddied in comparison to its need to hide in the original, but I'd argue that The Thing learns to hide after it's slaughtered again and again in this film.

There are other issues, mainly of detail (how the ship is buried, how The Thing escapes its ice block etc), but a lot of complaints center on the use of CGI. Now, the effects in the original weren't perfect, but the amazing way John Carpenter turned the screw with his Kubrickian camera, long tracking shots and concentration on quiet moments of reflection and character added tension; so when it eventually bursts on screen in an explosion of rubber and vomit, you ARE genuinely shocked. And it holds up today. True, some of the effects are incredibly bad now, but they still work when the film is viewed as a whole and the surreal imagery really hasn't been beaten. Certainly it hasn't been here. Some scenes do manage to capture the feel of the beast, but overall the plastic CGI takes away some of the realism and the creature design has taken something of a dive. It's also lacking in green/yellow goo which made some of the original Thing scenes stomach-churningly horrid.

I referenced earlier that there had been a lot of changes since principal photography by the studio, based on screening feedback. Now, I understand the importance of feedback in developing a movie, but Hollywood's filmmaking-by-committee has often been proved wrong, and on reading that interview I honestly feel the producers at Universal missed a trick. As a fan, I'd loved to have seen the original cut, sans CGI effects (they made them pracitcally to start) and with the extended scenes that allegedly contained far more character driven sections and gave the Norwegian cast members far more to do. For what its worth, it looks like these will be available on the Bluray disc, but it's an absolute shame that the longer, better paced and presumably more interesting to watch version will forever be under wraps. Here's hoping Universal sees fit to put out a Directors Cut.

As it stands, The Thing 2011 is an above-average horror, and more than makes the grade compared to the recent glut of remakes and sequels. It might be a pale imitation of the film it segues into, but I can't say I didn't enjoy it. If you want an effective shocker with effects to make your loved ones gag, it's worth it. Just bear in mind if you're a fan of the original you might come away disappointed.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Feb 2012 16:27:10 GMT
hey excellent review & i have to say i'm a john carpenter fan, but am still looking forward to seeing this prequel.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Feb 2012 17:22:49 GMT
B BOWEN says:
Cheers! It's less a review and more a long ramble though. :) It's very much a marmite movie! I hope you like it, there's some good stuff in there. Overall it's not how I would've done the prequel, but it could've been a lot worse... like Superman Returns, in a way.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Mar 2012 22:54:12 GMT
I am a huge fan of the JC The Thing and went into the cinema with low expectations but frankly loved it. I thought it was an excellent prequel and was so shocked at the level of detail in which it blended itself into the JC movie - the details with the axe in the door and the grenades etc all were fantastically done. I watched the JC Thing Thing immediately afterwards on blu Ray and relished in the seemless blend it accomplished. Very well done. I also thought it matched the tone completely. I also agree with you that it is like the orginal but on steroids, alot faster and more aggressive creature - but frankly i think that was the best way to bring it up to date to modern horror fans. So all in all i think it worked out very nicely and think the filmmakers should be very proud. I cant wait to get the blu ray and watch it back to back with the orignal again whilst sipping on a nice glass of J

Posted on 31 Mar 2012 10:15:09 BDT
Sorry but this movie is terrible, it brings no original ideas of its own, has poorly executed CGI and no atmosphere whatsoever, anyone who loved the original and is over the age of 16 should hate this film. Justin Bieber's movie is also very popular and loved by millions, but its still a disaster. Just shows that popularity doesnt make a good film

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Mar 2012 10:32:44 BDT
B BOWEN says:
I don't really deal too much in absolutes - the internet is too full of "this sucks", black-and-white eulogising as it is. I wrote this review not long after coming out of the cinema as I felt I had to put something down on paper - hence some terrible grammar (and maybe spelling).

I've since bought it on Bluray to complement the original Carpenter - or rather, be somewhat embarrassed by the original. I still have some respect for the fact it ever got a prequel/sequel, but the truth is I would've done a lot of things differently. That said, I don't believe it's a terrible horror movie. The CGI is occasionally appalling, the beast thing-ing out often nonsensical and it's definitely a shadow of Carpenter's classic, but I think it's still fun enough to occasionally warrant a viewing.

Also, this film certainly isn't popular. Not by any margin, so the Justin Bieber reference is entirely ill-fitting - this is b-movie schlock for gorehounds, nothing more, nothing less, and if you can stomach it for that and as a movie, a silly prelude to the real event.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Mar 2012 16:06:42 BDT
Actually this movie is more popular than it should. Sure its not The Shawshank Redemption for being loved or as popular as Paranormal Activity but it still gets floods of raving reviews when it really is a poor below average popcorn flick. Final Destination isnt far off, but at least that wasnt posing as a prequel/reboot of one of the best horror films of all time

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Apr 2012 00:37:53 BDT
B BOWEN says:
Ah, Final Destination is good fun! Well, until the third, then it's rapidly downhill from there... the first is not a film I'd recommend seeing before a flight (as I did when it first came out).

Anyway, The Thing 2011 has got a 6.3/10 rating on IMDB and 36% on Rotten Tomatoes. I certainly don't want to make out I'm an arbiter of taste, it's not a highly regarded film by any stretch - check out some of the threads on, lots of vitriol there!

Anyway, opinions and all that. Mine is simply that it's an average horror flick with some good stuff in that should've been much, much better. I can't deny that I found it entertaining. I can certainly understand the gripes!

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Apr 2012 00:40:42 BDT
as a standalone film its not too bad but i cant shake off that its a reboot/prequel of the original, its so typical for films to do this nowadays. and did you not notice Mary E Winstead's performance wasnt much different from FD3? A sock puppet would have been a better choice for the main role.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Apr 2012 00:47:24 BDT
B BOWEN says:
I don't think our opinions of it are too far off, really. It's a missed opportunity for sure. What mileage you get out of it will most likely depend on how much regard you have for the first. I mean - I love the first, but I can totally understand someone else who does hating it.

It's like Predators. MAN that film was disappointing. But now I can watch it and be entertained by it to a degree, whereas previously I was scratching my head by how poor it was with such a great, if unoriginal, idea it was based on. Expectations can mar a movie.

I can't remember FD3 much now, I must've burned it from my mind! :P I didn't think she was too bad in The Thing, but it's not like she had too much to work with. Let's face it, it was a poor facsimile of Sigourney Weaver in Alien/s, but she seemed to at least be giving it her all for what it's worth.

Posted on 1 Apr 2012 12:34:33 BDT
bern1106 says:
Thank you for taking the time to produce an excellent, neutral review. I'll do my best to go into it with a 'stand alone movie' vision.
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